By Ann Bleiker
The 2016 WPRA World Finals offers opportunities for all levels of membership from those searching for a world title, to those looking to get a head start on the 2017 rodeo season, to those looking to fill their permit. The World Finals also provides opportunities for non-members through the All Girl 5D Jackpot.
WPRA’s elite and newcomers will converge on the EXTRACO Events Center in Waco, Texas, October 20-23. Next to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, this is one of the biggest events of the year for the WPRA that attracts the highest caliber of barrel racers and female ropers from across the country.
The WPRA and their members are excited to return to the EXTRACO Events Center, home for the Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo, the All-American ProRodeo Finals and the Ram Texas Circuit Finals Rodeo. The facility features two indoor arenas – the EXTRACO Coliseum, known as one of the largest indoor arenas in the State of Texas, and the EXTRACO Show Pavilion.
This year’s event offers $100,000 in added money and PESI bonus money. In addition, eight world champions will be crowned along with hotly contested WPRA Cardholder race, permit only race and slot race.
- Back by popular demand: the WPRA cardholder race will boast $15,000 in added money with money counting for qualifications into the 2017 winter rodeos and for the 2017 Pro Rodeo standings. In 2015, Mary Burger raced her way to the title, kick starting her historic 2016 rodeo season. With the win, she got into RodeoHouston where her season hit a different gear. As a cardholder, you don't want to miss this opportunity that could open doors to help you qualify for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
- A $7,500 added Permit Only event will give permit and new members a chance to fill their permit at the end of the weekend. There is no other race like this in the world where a WPRA permit member races against permit only members for a shot at a share of $7,500.
Saturday night will once again feature the best ropers in the WPRA with a bonus round in breakaway, team roping and tie-down roping; the world champion will be crowned in the Junior Division and the fast horses in the WPRA will have a full-out one-run horse race in the WPRA World Finals Slot Race. 2015 WPRA Rookie of the Year Jackie Ganter took the title in 2015 with a time of 15.05 seconds after a last minute decision to enter. She won a total of $13,965 for that single run.
D&D Productions will serve as the ground crew. D&D Productions is a highly respected crew that handles the ground for the majority of the events at EXTRACO and strives to provide fast, consistent and safe ground for all competitors. T.C. Long will be the co-producer for the event along with the WPRA.
PHOTO BY: Peggy Gander
World Titles Up For Grabs
Two-time and reigning world champion tie-down roper Kari Nixon has positioned herself in 2016 to defend her title. Similar to last year, she is in a tight battle with good friend and fellow roper Donene Taylor, who is looking for her first world title. Last year, Nixon not only captured her second world title in 24 years of roping but also won the average title at the WPRA World Finals and said at the time, "What made this world title more exciting than the last was that I won the finals.” She won the finals one other time in 2013.
Nixon is excited to return for a shot at world title No. 3 but knows it will be tough going.
"The competition is always fierce, but I never look at that as my competition is the calves I draw," said Nixon. "It is how I rope, get them on the ground and tie them the most efficiently that matters and if I happen to be fast enough to win some money, then woo-hoo!
"I really enjoy the WPRA World Finals as it is four good days of roping and I am able to be around all my friends. I also like to see those that haven't been before or aren't able to compete much, be able to share in the experience and go home with some great prizes and even better memories."
In addition to the tie-down roping world title, world champions will also be named in the standard WPRA Roping events (Team Roping – Heading and Heeling and Breakaway) as well as the WPRA All-Around champion, the WPRA Junior barrel race, the WPRA Futurity (for horses 5-years-old and younger) and the WPRA Derby (for horses 7-years-old and younger). A total of $10,000 in added money will be up for grabs in the team roping (split evenly between heading and heeling), while $5,000 will be added to the breakaway, tie down roping, and junior world title race. A total of $13,500 will be added to the futurity division and $10,000 in the derby division.
Jackie Crawford collected her 14th world title in 2015, winning the all-around title. The Stephenville, Texas, cowgirl is looking to add some more world champion hardware to her collection and is in position to defend her all-around title as well as capture a breakaway and team roping heading title. If she’s able to win all three, it would be the second time in her career to win three world titles in the same year, the last coming in 2014. Following her win last year she said, "I'd like to get at least 18 world titles as I would like to be right up there with the most world titles of anybody before I'm done."
Reigning team roping champion Lari Dee Guy will try to derail Crawford on her quest for the team roping title in 2016, as she is hot on her heels. Guy and her partner Annette Stahl captured the title last year as a team for the first time in their career but Stahl has a very steep uphill climb to be in the mix this year. WPRA Rookie Jessica Remsburg of Boligee, Ala., is in the pole position for the heeling world title and is hers to lose as the 2016 World Finals gets underway.
Although Erin Johnson will not be able to defend her breakaway roping title, this event should be one to keep an eye on with Crawford leading the way. Hope Thompson and Jackie Hampton could play the spoiler after a successful 2016 season.
PHOTO BY: Peggy Gander
Although the WPRA World Champion Barrel Racer will not be crowned until December at the Wrangler NFR, the WPRA World Finals will feature several opportunities for members including naming a World Finals champion barrel racer upon conclusion of the $15,000 Added Cardholders Race. While the Wrangler NFR is reserved for the top 15, this class is open to ALL current Cardholders. For the third straight year the money won will not only count for qualifications into the 2017 limited entry rodeos but will also count for the 2017 Pro Rodeo standings.
With limited entry rodeos like San Antonio and Houston within the first three months of the 2017 calendar year, this race could be the difference in running down the alleyway at these rodeos or watching them from the sidelines. Mary Burger took advantage of this opportunity to start her 2016 season winning the three-run average and adding $9,006, easily shooting her to the top of the world standings.
"There is so much money up for grabs at the WPRA World Finals and there is a class for everyone, plus the ground and facility are great," said Burger. "I would suggest to everyone to load up and take a shot at the money. What do you have to lose?"
PHOTO BY: Peggy Gander
Permit Only Members
The WPRA World Finals will be offering a $7,500 Added Permit Only barrel race. This “get you started” class is a perfect opportunity to win a large sum of money and fill your permit allowing you to buy a WPRA card as the 2017 Rodeo season gets into full swing.
In 2015, Carley Richardson's older sister Kaily Richardson was on the fence of whether she should compete at the WPRA World Finals. After some persuading my Carley, Kaily decided she would enter the All Girls 5D but after looking at all the other opportunities available and the amount of money added in the Permit only race, she entered that as well. As the saying goes, the rest is history.
"Honestly, I wouldn't have gone except Carley made me," said Kaily after winning the Permit only title and adding $2,934 to her bank account, easily filling her permit. "I had decided to enter the Open. When I finally got around to looking at the information, I decided since there was so much added in the Permit only, I would just buy my permit and go. That's what I did but I still drug my feet and entered on the very last day."
So whether you decide early or late, the main thing is that you get entered up to fill that WPRA permit!
PHOTO BY: David Jennings
While Mary Burger has been breaking records at the elite level, WPRA Junior member Laney Robinson has set a new earnings record in the Junior Division.
The 16-year old has positioned herself in 2016 to add the WPRA Junior World Title to her already impressive resume. Robinson, of Mars Hills, N.C., and the daughter of PBR stock contractor Jeff, captured the National Junior High Finals Rodeo barrel racing title in 2015 and won the youth title at the National Barrel Horse Association Dixie National in 2014.
With over $50,000 won and over a $30,000 lead on the field, Robinson easily broke the earnings record in the junior division which was held by Jackie Ganter in 2014 with $27,024. In 2015, Ganter won the WPRA Rookie of the Year title and qualified for her first Wrangler NFR.
While Robinson has etched her name on the world title, there is still good money up for grabs at the WPRA World Finals for WPRA members 17 and younger. There will be $5,000 added and the young members will be featured during the Saturday night performance.
The WPRA World Finals Cardholder and Permits Only events will consist of two long rounds, and a short round (with the top 30 average times from the two long rounds). The fastest three run average determines the 2016 WPRA World Finals Champion. The Junior barrel race will consist of two long goes.
Pro Futurity and Derby
The Pro Futurity event will once again offer $13,500 in added money, while the added money has doubled in the Pro Derby division to $10,000. The Pro Futurity will be run on a 2D Format (full second split) and the Derby will be a straight payoff, with both classes consisting of two long goes and an average.
Last year, Tami Semas captured the world and reserve title in the WPRA Futurity Division with Smooth N Famous and Guys Amberetto, respectively. She also was the reserve champion in the Derby division with Ninnekahs Guy.
Following her WPRA title haul, Semas said, "I feel so blessed and honored that all three of my horses were able to do this. It's a cool honor to have on your resume. I want to say thanks to the WPRA for giving such nice awards. There was a gift certificate toward a saddle, a beautiful buckle and lots of nice useful things."
Lynnzie Lindstrom captured the Derby world title with her horse Dan I am Famous that was campaigned by her and good friend Vauna Walker.
All World Finals barrel racing action will be webcast through The Horse Sports Network. In addition, the Wrangler Network will stream the action from the roping arena on Friday night and will return to webcast live the Saturday night performance. If you can’t be there in person be sure to catch the action through one of the aforementioned webcasts.
For more information on the WPRA World Finals, visit www.wpra.com.